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Hearth and Home: Coleridge, De Quincey, Austen

Hearth and Home: Coleridge, De Quincey, Austen

(p.54) Chapter Two Hearth and Home: Coleridge, De Quincey, Austen
Romanticism and the Question of the Stranger
David Simpson
University of Chicago Press

Coleridge’s “Frost at Midnight” contains references to the stranger in the sense that the stranger seems not to be strange but rather familiar—imagined as a friend whose presence is desired. This presents a paradox as to how a stranger can be a friend and why a friend would be called a stranger. The chapter also discusses Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of An English Opium Eater where De Quincy receives a visit from the stranger and receives him as an uncanny companionate spirit or double. In this, De Quincey reveals his own Orientalization—something he deeply resists. When this Malay traveler apparently speaks no English, and De Quincey no Malay, they agree to pretend to understand, thus creating a minimal social relation, giving readers a glimpse of such a foreign experience. Finally, the chapter also looks novels such as Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen to divulge a sense of the stranger within her characters.

Keywords:   stranger, Coleridge, Jane Austen, Thomas De Quincey, Orientalization, Frost at Midnight, Confessions of An English Opium Eater, Sense and Sensibility

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